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Morehouse College might halt graduation if there are disruptions when President Biden speaks

Photo of Morehouse College (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

(CNN) — Morehouse College President David A. Thomas said Thursday he would shut down commencement ceremonies “on the spot” rather than allow police to remove student protesters in zip ties during President Joe Biden’s graduation speech.

Biden’s scheduled commencement speech Sunday at one of the nation’s preeminent historically Black colleges comes as school officials around the country have had called in law enforcement to clear pro-Palestinian encampments and quell demonstrations in recent weeks.

“What we won’t allow is disruptive behavior that prevents the ceremony or services from proceeding in a manner that those in attendance can partake and enjoy,” Thomas told CNN’s Victor Blackwell in an interview Thursday.

“So, for example, prolonged shouting down of the president as he speaks. I have also made a decision that we will also not ask police to take individuals out of commencement in zip ties. If faced with the choice, I will cease the ceremonies on the spot If we were to reach that position.”

Biden’s presence on the Atlanta campus also comes as he seeks to convince young voters to send him to the White House for another term, even as many have expressed frustration for his administration’s continued support of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

Protests have erupted at college campuses across the country as students have demanded that universities divest from Israel.

Commencement ceremonies are taking place against a backdrop of police barricades and heightened law enforcement presence, metal detectors and other security measures.

Biden has been confronted by some protests during his own speeches and campaign events. A Biden speech on abortion rights at George Mason University in Virginia earlier this year was marred by more than a dozen protests over his administration’s support of Israel.

Biden is also expected to deliver a commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on May 25.